Divorce is likely to be one of the most challenging experiences of your life, even if you are sure your marriage needs to end. The actual legal process of dissolution is more complex than many people realize, and it’s common for divorcing spouses to enter their dissolution proceedings with misconceptions. While it’s natural to wish to preserve your best interests as you navigate your divorce, it’s essential to know what the actual legal process entails and what you can do to secure a fair and reasonable outcome for your divorce case. It’s also vital to know the common mistakes you should avoid during your divorce proceedings.
Some of the following errors have the potential to significantly delay your divorce proceedings, leading to greater expense on legal fees and more stress with the process overall. Other mistakes can have profound effects on the outcome of your divorce. Review the following list of common errors, so you know what to avoid as your divorce case unfolds.
Don’t Attempt to Handle Your Divorce Alone
One of the biggest mistakes anyone can make in a divorce is believing they do not need legal representation. While it is technically possible to resolve a divorce case without legal counsel, doing so will be far more difficult than the average person is likely to realize. If you have no formal legal education, no experience with the family court system, and a wide range of personal and professional obligations, trying to handle your divorce without an attorney is setting you up for a highly arduous series of legal proceedings you are unprepared to address effectively.
Working with an experienced divorce attorney makes the entire divorce process much easier. You will be able to rely on your legal team for ongoing advice and support, and they can help you make better decisions on various aspects of your case. Additionally, you may have more options for handling your divorce available to you than you initially realize, and a good attorney can help you take advantage of these options.
Don’t Discuss Your Divorce Online
Most attorneys will tell their clients to avoid posting on social media during civil cases, including divorces. While you might think your social media activity is harmless, the reality is that anything you post online is publicly visible. In addition, others can misinterpret posts in various ways. For example, you could unintentionally post something that conflicts with statements you’ve given in your divorce proceedings, which will ultimately cast doubt on the validity of those statements or call other aspects of your testimony into question. Ultimately, it is always best to refrain from actively using social media until your divorce is finalized. You can browse passively but avoid posting, commenting, or interacting with others on social media until you complete your divorce.
Don’t Use Your Kids Against Your Spouse
Child custody disputes often play central roles in divorce cases, and it’s vital for parents to keep their children’s best interests and needs foremost in their minds during their divorce proceedings. When parents act out of spite or when they allow their problems with their spouses to influence their relationships with their children, this is destructive for everyone involved.
Be as honest as possible with your children about what is happening in their families. While it can be challenging to explain the divorce to younger children, do your best to show your kids that the problems between you and their other parent are not reflections of them, nor does your divorce change the fact that both of their parents love them and want what is best for them. If you attempt to put your children against your spouse or speak negatively about your spouse in front of your children, this is very likely to backfire on you. In addition, if your children later discover that you intentionally diminished their relationship with their other parent out of personal spite, this can easily foster resentment and irreparably damage your relationships with them.
Don’t Attempt to Hide Assets
Property division is likely to be a contentious issue in any divorce. While the thought of dividing assets with your soon-to-be ex-spouse may be distressing, do not attempt to illegally hide assets from your financial disclosure statement. The family court requires divorcing spouses to provide complete and accurate financial records. Any attempt to obfuscate this process will have severe consequences. Even if you manage to hide assets throughout your divorce, your activities may eventually be discovered. Lying under oath is a prosecutable offense, and there are many ways the court may discover these activities.
If you are found to have lied in your financial disclosure statement, you will likely face contempt of court. In addition, if your spouse needed to hire expert witnesses to forensically review your financial records, the judge handling your case would very likely hold you liable for any additional legal fees they incurred due to your actions. So, ultimately, it is never worth trying to hide any assets from your divorce proceedings. Doing so is very likely to be much more costly in the end.
Don’t Rush the Divorce Process
While you may want to finalize your divorce as quickly as possible to move on with your life, the outcome of your divorce is likely to influence your future in various ways. Therefore, you should not make any hasty decisions and instead attempt to approach the situation calmly with reliable legal advice.
One of the best things you can do to approach your case with more confidence is to spend time discussing expectations with your spouse. Even if the two of you fight about everything, taking time to understand each other’s goals and expectations for the divorce process can pay off later. You’ll know which issues are most likely to generate contention and which will be easier to address.
Divorce is never easy, and every divorce case is likely to entail a host of unique and multifaceted issues that both spouses will need to address. It’s natural to feel stressed and uncertain about the potential directions your divorce could take, and legal counsel you can trust is an invaluable asset in this situation. If you are preparing to divorce in the near future, consult an experienced divorce lawyer as soon as possible to get the answers you need to your most pressing legal questions.